Sources: IEEX Emeralds
IEEX is based in Colombia, and provides emeralds directly from the legendary mines of Muzo and Chivor. Emerald rough is then cut by a master lapidary, Ricardo Jimenez, in Bogotá. Every specimen is identified for its qualities, and analyzed according to color, clarity, cut and luster. These emeralds are locally certified.
According to Colombian law, miners are paid over 2 times the minimum wage, with no child labor. Emeralds are mined through tunneling, without toxic chemicals.
Through this collaboration, we create heirloom quality pieces from legendary Colombian emeralds. We work to offer full transparency- from the mines and miners, lapidary, goldsmithing and fabrication- until they reach you.
Interview with George Smith, owner of IEEX Emeralds- April 14th, 2019
What is your favorite gemstone? Why?
My favorite gemstone is Colombian emerald, quite simply because it's the only stone that I somewhat understand (no one ever understands any gemstone fully). The Colombian emerald has afforded me the ability to live really well in a country that was not my place of birth. It puts food on the table directly or indirectly to tens if not hundreds of thousands of people here in my city.
Proudest moment in the industry?
Being able to arrive in Colombia after working for nearly a decade in finance and being able to build a business, in what is a super tough industry, from scratch. My proudest moment is every morning that I wake up, 5 years on, still growing.
What is the best investment in jewelry?
In loose stones....Exceptional untreated examples of the big three, Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires of the correct origin, (Burma, Colombia, Kashmir). Although prices are already very high for these stones they are still an excellent and highly liquid asset class with global appeal. Definitely a medium to long term play though. In jewellery.....Whilst this is not my area of expertise there is certainly money to be made from hunting for old jewellery that houses any of the big three above. Vintage Cartier, Harry Winston etc etc is always interesting too but where you source these pieces from is everything. Buying at auction and paying 20% premium etc etc will act as an additional barrier to making a return, also the price paid by the buyer is public so likely a good few years will need to pass before anyone is willing to re-bid.
What is ethical jewelry?
In most cases simply an overused term to appease the consumer and for the seller to ‘virtue signal.’ However, in instances where there the seller has researched and verified the provenance of its stones, gold, and working conditions of those in the supply chain you could make the argument for ethical jewellery. This is very, very difficult to do with a 100% degree of certainty. Ultimately, if every step in the chain is ‘ethical’ and jeweller avoids paying taxes, is it still ethical jewellery? Its a broad term but I appreciate its importance and of course welcome any client who wishes to research and understand my supply chain and whether or not it’s ethical. In that sense I’m an open book, if a customer wants to visit the mines, mine owners, cutters, laboratories, my offices or any involved party here in Colombia they are most welcome. Ethical jewellery for me is simply about people who genuinely care about what they manufacture and supply. Good people.
If you had $20,000, what would you buy from Thesis G&J?
I’d tell Thesis to surprise me with a totally unique pair of cuff links. I'd definitely not start involving myself in the design process or indeed the sourcing of the stones. I’d let Thesis get on with it! Yes, definitely cuff links or some kind of manly brooch. Does a manly brooch exist?!
Are you in the process of creating something right now?
I've been working on a ‘Taschen style’ photo book of the emerald region and its people for a couple of years now, hope to have that ready in the summer. I have a couple of very fancy stones I want to cut but waiting on the right rough to become available. This business as they say here in Colombia is ‘God & luck’ so waiting for one of those two to look favorably upon this desire of mine.
Are your feet the same size? As far as I am aware.
What food would you not, under any circumstances, eat? Any animal that's super endangered or insects. That said, starving humans will eat other humans so it's hard for me to answer this question honestly.